Print this page

Robert Pearson

  Accessible Media


All Access Content: The Case for All or More

Tell a Friend

As the next phase of compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) approaches, AMI's Robert Pearson explores whether compliance can be regulated based on variable accessibility requirements.

AODA in sign language

Image: AODA spelt in sign language

Note: Organizations looking to revamp their websites need to pay close attention to their AODA obligations under the Integrated Standard. Commencing January 1, 2014, all public sector organizations and large private sector organizations must ensure that all new and significantly revamped internet websites and web content on those sites complies with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A.

I am proud to say that my 2-year-old daughter is an avid reader. We read paper books with her and it is my hope that she maintains her interest in them throughout her life, even though I am certain that they may become something of a novelty in less than a couple of decades. More often than not when we come to the last page of a story, she wants to figure out how to find the next page after that. She's enjoying the book and she's looking for more. "More... More... More..." 

Certainly if one thing is true in the provision of accessible media, we are always looking for more. How do we define MORE though? Is it ALL? Is it more than in the past? Is it more of one type of content and not of another?  

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the drafting of the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Information and Communication Standard and the question of MORE is one that we considered. In the end, we made the decision to indicate a requirement to W3C 2.0 AA compliance for websites in the Province. However, once the regulation became law, there was an element of open interpretation applied to it, in that “ALL new web content and websites” must now comply with these guidelines by a certain deadline.

Now as the deadline approaches, organizations are working to understand what their requirements are. “Does my mobile website need to comply?” “Do my PDFs need to comply?” Well, it depends on your definition of “content”. Nowhere in the law does it state that a “mobile” website or specifically a “PDF” file must be compliant to the guidelines. Therefore, could an organization argue that their mobile presence does not need to be accessible along with the PDFs on their website while the remainder of the site was made accessible?

Open interpretation leavs the door open to minimum effort and the detriment of audiences requiring media in an accessible format. This is also true in another aspect of the law where compliance to Level A guidelines is required by a certain date and then compliance to Level AA only many years after that. Note: By January 1, 2021, public sector organizations and large private sector organizations will need to ensure that all internet websites and web content complies with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, except for (i) success criteria 1.2.4 Captions (Live), and (ii) success criteria 1.2.5 Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded).

So, when does MORE become ALL? Does an open interpretation allow us to define that on a case-by-case basis? If so, can compliance be regulated based upon variable requirements? These are all questions currently facing the Province as work to achieve the end goal of a more accessible Ontario continues.

As for my daughter, perhaps, ‘more’ is ‘all’. If there isn’t another page after the last page, then there is always the next book on the shelf to be read until we have made our way through them all.


Related Resources

Blog: Four Key Drivers for Organizations to Provide Accessible Electronic Documents | Article by Shannon Kelly.
Publications: Putting e-Accessibility at the Core of Information Systems | Download PDF.
Event: G3ict Keynote and Briefing Session at ICT Week Jamaica | Event Details.